David Bowie left his capsule last night, at the age of 69, and is now floating in a most peculiar way. “Planet Earth is blue,” he told us in ’69, on “Space Oddity,” his first of many indelible songs, “and there’s nothing I can do.”

Something happened on the day he died/Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside.

As I pen this obituary, the song “Lazarus" plays in my headphones. For those who missed their Sunday lessons, Lazarus of Bethany was a friend and follower of Jesus whom Christ brought back to life in the 11th chapter of the Gospel According to John. Four days after the man’s death Jesus ordered his tomb opened and said, “Lazarus, come out,” whereupon Lazarus emerged, his hands, feet, and face still wrapped in cloth. This miracle marked the beginning of the end for Jesus, whose enemies were so upset that they begin plotting to kill him.

In the video for “Lazarus” Bowie appears emaciated, clutching the blanket on a hospital bed, ace bandages covering his eyes with metallic black grommets where his pupils should be. Still he sees everything with brutal clarity. 

“Look up here, I’m in heaven,” he sings. “I’ve got scars that can’t be seen…. I’ve got nothing left to lose.” What better coda to this remarkable life than a musical resurrection? One imagines him planning the rollout for this final release, transubstantiating the last shreds of his life into art. The song ends defiantly, as befits a man who always understood Hippocrates’ aphorism: Ars longa, vita brevis.

Oh, I'll be free
Just like that bluebird
Oh, I'll be free
Ain't that just like me?

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